Alma Backyard Farms

ABOUT. Alma Backyard Farms was inspired by the voices and ideas shared by juvenile offenders and prisoners eager to transform their lives and communities by "giving back" to the communities they "took from" and were taken away from.  For most people experiencing incarceration, there are few opportunities to see and interact with nature and few opportunities to provide nurture to others.  Yet few are given the opportunities to learn skills and make that possible.  

Alma Backyard Farms has listened to the formerly incarcerated and been inspired by their willingness to reorient their lives as caretakers of community.  Recognizing that Los Angeles is a place where no life or space is wasted, Alma Backyard Farms creates multiple opportunities for women and men who were incarcerated to give back to the health and safety of communities by growing food in and for these communities.  

Rooted in restorative justice and environmental stewardship, Alma Backyard Farms started in 2013 to implement this project of reclaiming lives, repurposing land and reimagining community.  Alma Backyard Farms proposes real solutions to the challenges of California's overcrowded prisons and food injustice in low-income neighborhoods.  Recognizing that no lives or land is to be wasted, Alma Backyard Farms creates opportunities for the previously incarcerated to become agents of health, safety and community.


COMPTON. In 2017, Alma Backyard Farms installed its largest urban farm on the property of a church and school.  This space is 1/4 of an acre and has allowed for a three-fold increase in Alma’s capacity to grow food and impact community.  Today, the urban farm in Compton acts as Alma’s hub for its programs.  With a larger urban farm site, Alma Backyard Farms is now poised to grow more food and create more opportunities for formerly incarcerated people, at-risk children and youth, and food insecure families. 

The urban farm in Compton includes 8000 square feet of edible landscape with 36 raised beds, 12 fruit trees, and a 4000 square foot pollinator garden.  In the near future, there will be a farm stand where produce will be shared with the community.

SOUTH LA. In 2015, Alma installed an urban farm at a transitional home providing an opportunity for over 60 formerly incarcerated persons to experience re-entry as a means to “give back” and restore their personal sense of agency.  Alma Backyard Farms transformed a space known to community members as “a dope house” into a productive space that grows food and grows community.  

The urban farm in South Los Angeles includes 2000 square feet of edible landscape with 12 raised beds, 24 fruit trees, 1 chicken coop and a 1000 square foot pollinator garden.

EAST LA. In 2013, Alma installed an urban farm that provided food to 5 families of formerly incarcerated parents and their children as part of an effort to reunify them.  Today, the food grown in this farm continues to benefit all of Alma’s constituents.

The urban farm in East Los Angeles includes 750 square feet of edible landscape with 8 raised beds, 8 fruit trees, and a 450 square foot pollinator garden.

Seed Library of LA

OUR MISSION is to facilitate the growth of open-pollinated seeds among residents of the Los Angeles Basin. We are building a seed collection and repository, educating members about the practice of seed-saving, and creating a local community of seed-saving gardeners. We seek to preserve genetic diversity, increase food security and food justice in our region, safeguard alternatives to GMO’s, and empower all members through a deeper connection with nature and the experience of self-reliance. We will strive for excellence in all that we do, knowing the preservation of seed is a sacred trust.

Founded in December 2010, the Seed Library of Los Angeles (SLOLA) is headquartered at The Learning Garden at Venice High School.  We meet monthly at The Learning Garden.  Each meeting includes an educational presentation and a seed exchange among members, as well as lots of fun and good company!

People save seeds for a host of different reasons from ideology to old-fashioned thriftiness.  We welcome all viewpoints and levels of interest.  We seek to reflect all the cultural diversity of our amazing city.  We welcome gardeners of all ages and skill levels, including apartment dwellers with one pot!

A SEED LIBRARY is a depository of seeds held in trust for the members of that library. Members come to the library and borrow seed for their garden.  Members grow the plants in their garden and at the end of the season, they let a few plants ‘go to seed.’  From those plants, they collect seeds to return to the Library to replenish its inventory. All  Seeds are free to members.

The library is both a collection of seeds and of community gardeners.  Since seed is a living thing, it must be renewed each year somewhere by someone or unique varietals can become extinct.  Even growing one seed and returning it to the library is a valuable contribution.

To join the Seed Library, please visit our membership page. Lifetime membership is currently $10. If you are able to make this an annual donation please select recurring in your donation tab. If you are unable to return the seed you had checked out please consider a $1 donation to go towards restoring the inventory.

If you would like to find a particular seed, click below to search.  Only during the months of  August and February will we offer BOTH Cool & Warm Season Inventory for each Branch.   Venice Branch Inventory or by season: Venice Branch COOL Inventory Aug 2017 and Venice Branch WARM Inventory Mar 2018 or the San Fernando Valley Branch Warm Inventory Mar 2018 and San Fernando Valley Branch COOL Inventory Aug 2017 .

5 Great Things About Seed Libraries!

  1. BIODIVERSITY IS AT RISK. A far wider variety of seeds can be kept fresh by many people growing.  We all gain when we combine our efforts. Our seed library is focused on varietals ideal for home gardeners (full flavor and variety in a  small garden) rather than commercial varietals, which often sacrifice flavor and personality for the sake of uniformity and durability for shipping.
  2. SAVE MONEY. Participants can save hundreds of dollars each season by growing their own food and saving their own seed.  In Southern California, we are blessed with a climate that allows us to grow food year-round!
  3. FOOD SOVEREIGNTY. A seed library ensures we have a food supply that is reproducible, local, uncontaminated by genetic modification, and free from external controls. Growing our own food and saving our own seed continues the fine American tradition of self-reliance.
  4. NATIVE SEED. Over time the plants will change in response to our local climate and soil, and gradually will become better seeds for our area. As caretakers of seeds, we cooperate with nature in carrying on priceless genetic material for future generations.  Seeds are a sacred trust passed down to us by our ancestors.  The seed library helps us to best honor that gift.
  5. COMMUNITY. We get to hang out with other like-minded gardeners! Gardening nourishes the soul  as well as the body. By growing a plant from seed, eating its fruit and returning it back to seed, we become fully engaged in the rhythm of nature, grow more attuned to the world around us, and gain a deeper understanding of our own place in the web of life.


We believe that food is the common thread that can mitigate the world's problems


Food is the common thread that can help mitigate many of the world’s problems including climate change, peak oil, and chronic disease. On the path towards building resilient communities, nothing is more important than establishing sustainable food production facilities that are truly local.


Aquaponics is a unique approach to sustainable food production, which merges hydroponics (soilless food production) and aquaculture (fish farming). Simply put, the fish (which can be edible) provide the fertilizer for the plants while the plants filter the water for the fish. It is a symbiotic relationship that demonstrates biomimicry in its truest form.

Of all of the food production methods, aquaponics has the highest yields and uses the least amount of water with no waste. With live fish in the system, chemical use is simply not an option. As a result, in many ways, aquaponics exceeds organic standards.

Seed to Sky with L.A. Kitchen

Building an economic bridge from LA’s community gardens to LAX

L.A. Kitchen’s coalition leverages strengths of existing organizations creating resilient communities. Partners merge expertise in urban agriculture, entrepreneurial training, community engagement and social enterprise to activate a community-led food system. A foundation is set for an economic bridge, from Seed to Sky. Angelenos collaborate to grow healthy food right in our neighborhoods, create jobs, and generate profits that return to local residents through L.A. Kitchen’s social enterprise.

Seed To Sky is L.A. Kitchen’s latest effort to challenge existing business models and create powerful bridges for change. L.A. Kitchen is excited to launch a coalition to stand side-by-side with other organizations doing powerful work in a collaborative network. This activation will lay a strong foundation to build an economic bridge – from LA to LAX – from Seed to Sky. This isn’t about making LA a better city to live in – LA already has powerful assets! Instead, it’s about strategically leveraging assets to collaboratively build a more resilient, just and connected food community. We are developing an urban food system, in which we put communities at the center. 

Stay in touch to find out more about our vision for LA2050.

Community Services Unlimited

About Us

Community Services Unlimited Inc. (CSU), is a 501c3 established in 1977 and head quartered in South Central Los Angeles. Since then it has created community programs and organizing campaigns like the early Safe Seniors to the more recent Free Medical Screening Program and the most recent From the Ground Up. CSU has also provided fiscal sponsorship and support for many grass roots organizing efforts ranging in diversity from Police Watch, Community in Support of the Gang Truce, and Food Forestry International.

Our Mission

Our mission is to foster the creation of communities actively working to address the inequalities and systemic barriers that make sustainable communities and self-reliant life-styles unattainable. We are committed to supporting and creating justice-driven community-based programs and educational initiatives, which seek to foster dialogue, and create awareness and critical consciousness. We envision equitable, healthful and sustainable communities that are self-reliant, inter-relating and where every individual has the support and resources needed to develop to their fullest capacity.

Our Vision

We envision equitable, healthful and sustainable communities that are self-reliant, inter-relating and where every individual has the support and resources needed to develop to their fullest capacity.

The Growing Club | SGV

The Growing Club, based in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles, gathers diverse individuals and communities together to nourish the common well being of people and our planet.

Join our group of pro-activists as we revive the power of people’s hands to weave humanity into nature’s web of generosity. Learn and explore with us as we bring health and resilience back to our urban ecosystem, as we ground our community in healthy soil, nutritious food, and human connection. Come meet us for one of our upcoming hands-on workshops, watch a few of our popular educational & how-to videos, visit one our three ecological demonstration gardens, or apply for LA’s only Urban Farmer Training Program.


Pico Union Project

Our Vision

The Pico Union Project is dedicated to the Jewish principle to “love your neighbor as yourself.” It elevates this teaching into practice in a historic building by bringing diverse cultures together through song, story, art, food and prayer. Pico Union Project is a multi-faith cultural arts center and house of worship founded in 2013 by visionary recording artist, composer and musician Craig Taubman. Pico Union Project aims to help invigorate the community of Los Angeles and reflect the Jewish value of being a light to all nations.

Vida Sana Farmers Market
2nd and 4th Thursdays 2:30-4:00pm

Come volunteer at our bi-monthly Vida Sana Farmers Market and help out with the activities, workshops, and produce distribution. All are welcome. 2:00 PM call time for all volunteers!

Click here to sign up as a volunteer.

Veteran Farmers of America

Veteran Farmers of America or “VFA” is an organization that connects veterans to agriculture in many ways. One way we introduce veterans to farming is by providing paid internships at a variety of the nation’s leaders in agriculture. Future programs are to include a veteran-operated farm and a scholarship program. VFA was founded to help veterans with the transition from active duty to civilian life. Our hope is to help veterans heal, reintegrate, and become productive members of society. The benefit to the veterans will be helping them transition from protecting their country to providing their fellow Americans with food, which will undoubtedly continue to give them a sense of contribution and fulfillment.

Farming will offer veterans the opportunity to continue their quest and substantial desire to give back, which we hope will improve their emotional wellbeing. Veterans are 1% of the population, but represent 20% of the suicide rate in America. Military families will benefit greatly by being part of a team of professionals dedicated to safely and sustainably producing the crops that feed America. The farms will benefit as veteran recruits will help solve the current labor shortage. The benefit to the farmers will be finding employees who are accustomed to working in austere conditions for long periods of time. Farming is not only fulfilling; it is hard physical labor and veterans are up for the challenge. We hope to fight the increase in veteran unemployment and suicide. With the support of the community, veteran Farmers of America can change lives.

Shemesh Organic Farm | Malibu, CA

At the Shemesh Organic Farm, we teach about the connection between Judaism, Israel, nature, and agriculture through hands-on organic farming, gardening, harvesting, and composting. The farm is also model for Jewish social and environmental responsibility – the harvested fruits and vegetables are used in our outdoor cooking workshops, as ingredients in meals in our dining hall, and donated to SOVA, the kosher food pantry.

The farm consists of:

Throughout the year, the Shemesh Organic Farm is open to the community for field trips and retreats. During the summer, hundreds of Camp JCA Shalom campers enjoy the farm experience. To read more about our farm, please click here.

To read Marla’s story and a full description of activities available at the garden, please click here.

To donate to the Marla Bennett Israel Discovery Center and Garden please click here »

To book your field trip or service day or for more info please contact Bill Kaplan at (818) 889-5500 ext. 108 or e-mail

"One day, Honi the Circle Maker was walking on the road and saw a man planting a carob tree. Honi asked the man, “How long will it take for this tree to bear fruit?” The man replied, “Seventy years.” Honi then asked the man, “And do you think you will live another seventy years and eat the fruit of this tree? “The man answered, “Perhaps not. However, when I was born into this world, I found many carob trees planted by my father and grandfather. Just as they planted trees for me, I am planting trees for my children and grandchildren so they will be able to eat the fruit of these trees.”


Social Justice Learning Institute

At the Social Justice Learning Institute, we are dedicated to improving the education, health, and well being of youth and communities of color by empowering them to enact social change through research, training, and community mobilization.

We envision communities where education empowers individuals to use their agency for the purpose of improving each other’s lives.

SJLI Core Values

  1. We privilege the ideas, voice, and leadership of our youth and community members.
  2. Everyone must be afforded equal opportunity in order to achieve equitable treatment.
  3. We do all things in love.
  4. No one is hopeless.

Our Goals

Our goals are simple. We work to:

  • build capacity for individuals and communities to advocate for their needs
  • train and build leaders
  • educate and empower youth and community members to identify and rectify injustice; and to
  • deliver effective programs, resources and support that help advance our mission

To meet these goals, we work with youth, residents, local schools, districts and city officials to increase educational opportunities through innovative programs and sustainable practices. We also develop and manage programs that advance academic, food, and environmental justice.

RootDown LA

RootDown LA is a youth-run non-profit committed to bringing better food & nutrition education to neighborhoods in South L.A.

At RootDown LA, we believe supplying a community with healthy food is not enough to help residents make sustainable dietary changes. Without a genuine demand for that healthy food and a population of people who can reinforce demand over time, our efforts to maintain a supply fall flat.

Luckily, in 2007, a group of highly-motivated youth living in South L.A. got serious about improving nutrition programs for their families and peers. Not long after, RootDown LA was born. With these youth at the forefront of our engaging programs and strategically located veggie gardens, we've successfully developed a model that has convinced thousands of people in South L.A. (and beyond!) they'll wanna eat their veggies!

Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust

Our mission is to grow healthier, safer, and stronger communities by creating urban parks and community gardens that remedy the critical lack of green and recreational spaces in greater Los Angeles' underserved neighborhoods.

The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust was founded in 2002 to address LA's park inequities. We focus our efforts exclusively in communities of color that have little to no access to green space.

Less than one acre of green space is available for every 1,000 residents in the communities we serve. In stark contrast, the citywide average is over four acres and the countywide average is over three acres. For 15 years we have aimed to change this dynamic and have added nearly eight acres of accessible green space to LA by helping create 25 parks and gardens. These neighborhood assets serve 195,000 Angelenos annually. By 2019, we will complete five additional parks and gardens, adding nearly 15 additional acres of green space to LA County.

Our successful greenspace development model engages residents from the beginning of our design process, through construction and ultimately the stewardship of the parks and gardens we create. To ensure the long-term impact of our efforts, we are working towards equitable greenspace development in LA through grassroots policy reform.

American Community Garden Association

The Mission of the American Community Gardening Association is to build community by increasing and enhancing community gardening and greening across the United States and Canada.

The American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) is a bi-national nonprofit membership organization of professionals, volunteers and supporters of community greening in urban and rural communities. The Association recognizes that community gardening improves people’s quality of life by providing a catalyst for neighborhood and community development, stimulating social interaction, encouraging self-reliance, beautifying neighborhoods, producing nutritious food, reducing family food budgets, conserving resources and creating opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy and education.

ACGA and its member organizations work to promote and support all aspects of community food and ornamental gardening, urban forestry, preservation and management of open space, and integrated planning and management of developing urban and rural lands.

The Association supports community gardening by facilitating the formation and expansion of state and regional community gardening networks; developing resources in support of community gardening; and, encouraging research and conducting educational programs.

Garden School Foundation

The Garden School Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to provide meaningful education for underserved youth in Los Angeles through garden-based learning in outdoor living classrooms. We work with Title 1 schools to sustainably implement our curriculum of experiential standards-based lessons in all academic subjects, as well as cooking and nutrition, to strengthen the connection between education, health, environmental awareness, and thriving communities.

Since 2005, we’ve been turning asphalt into ecosystems, working to create a healthy, educated and aware future generation that cares for their community, their bodies and for the earth. We currently serve at 6 elementary schools and one high school throughout Los Angeles, reaching over 2,500 students and their families. Our Seed to Table program brings to life what’s taught in the classroom and gives children the tools they need to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.

Food Forward

Food Forward rescues fresh local produce that would otherwise go to waste, connecting this abundance with people in need, and inspiring others to do the same.

How We Do It:

We collect fresh fruits and vegetables that would normally go to waste from backyard fruit trees, public orchards, farmers markets, and the downtown Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market. 100% of the produce we recover is donated to hunger relief agencies across 8 counties in Southern California.

Why We Do It:

According to the NRDC, up to 40% of food in the United States is wasted. At the same time, 1 in 6 individuals lack adequate access to food. Food Forward presents a simple solution to this disparity by connecting surplus produce with the food insecure people in our communities.

Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA)

SEE-LA’s mission is to build sustainable food systems and promote social and cultural activities that benefit both low-to-moderate income residents of Los Angeles while also supporting California small- and mid-sized farms and local small businesses

Besides our incredible Farmers Markets, SEE-LA keeps Los Angeles healthy by offering and coordinating many programs that enrich lifestyles, help the community and enhance our mission. We are dedicated to improving access to fresh, healthy foods by way of CalFresh EBT, the WIC program and Market Match. Children across Los Angeles benefit from our Bring the Farmer to Your Schoolprogram, in which local California farmers have provided engaging sessions to schools for over 15 years.  Our commitment to community enrichment is extended through our Pompea Smith Good Cooking Buena Cocina Nutrition Education Program, where we offer nutrition education, cooking demonstrations and much more.  For a complete overview and more details, please visit our Programs Page.

LA Compost

L.A. Compost began in 2013 with the collective efforts of volunteers, friends and family. In the beginning, we were a food waste diversion service. Food scraps, leaves, paper, and almost any organic material were collected from 4 different cities. Our collection crew rode bikes with trailers that allowed them the ability to haul this material from restaurants, homes, schools, and apartments, to local created compost centers.

These compost centers were often found in the back yards of community-supporters’ homes. Within a span of 5 months our 15 plus riders diverted over 30,000 pounds of organic material from landfills and converted it into usable compost. The compost was sold and given away at local farmers markets. With the generated income from sales, we built an edible garden in one of the cities where we were collecting. Our work was featured in the LA Times as well as other local publications.

In 2014 LA Compost shifted its focus from bike-collections to creating local compost hubs. We wanted communities to see how far their organic material was traveling and the harmful effects it had on the environment. By keeping organic material in the same zip code where the food was originally consumed, the finished compost stayed within the community and supported their growing efforts.

We now have 8 community compost hubs all throughout L.A. County. These hubs range from schools, museums, and community gardens. Each hub reflects the community in which it’s located but they all serve the same purpose. They keep organics in the community and they create a shared space where individuals can come together to learn and ultimately be a part of something bigger than their individual self.

Farm LA

Farm LA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing underutilized lots in Los Angeles communities for solar and agricultural farms. With your help, we can acquire vacant properties and turn them into farms that grow food for community distribution, or solar farms to help Los Angeles generate its water and energy from renewable sources. We want to create a cultural awareness and appreciation for community gardening, healthy eating and sustainable energy.

LA Green Grounds

LA Green Grounds is a grassroots organization of volunteers dedicated to working with residents of South Los Angeles, California to convert their front lawns and parkways into edible landscapes and urban farms. 

Residents host a garden "Dig-in" when this work happens.  Inviting family, friends, neighbors, and volunteers to participate, creates a sense of community.  Everyone learns how to convert lawns into edible landscapes that encourage and inspire neighborhoods to" grow their own". 

We work closely with our garden recipients to guide them through each growing season and provide ongoing support through teaching sustainable practices and offering wellness activities. 

We like to think of LA Green Grounds as a way of life.  Our mission is to empower South LA's communities and beyond, one garden at a time. 

Started in 2010 by Florence Nishida, Vanessa Voblis and Ron Finley who has since moved to pursue the Ron Finley Project.

As of the end of 2013, 27 edible gardens have been installed.

GrowGood | Bell, CA

Founded in 2011, GrowGood, Inc., is a Los Angeles-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, creating urban agricultural programs to empower people and transform communities. GrowGood provides fresh produce and opportunities through our 1.5-acre farm in Bell, Calif., just a few miles from downtown Los Angeles. We grow thousands of pounds of vegetables and fruit that become part of more than 6,000 meals served each week at the Salvation Army's Bell Shelter. Working with the shelter's staff, we operate a paid job training program for residents and a "Food for Life" skills series of classes. Shelter clients also have access to the peace and healing aspects of being in the garden and among our hundreds of California native plants.